Adrift sailor rescued near Saipan

Boating Safety officers rescued early Tuesday morning a lone sailor who had been out at sea for about 127 days but was forced to seek help due to bad weather.

Rimas Meleshyus was located about five miles southeast of Saipan alone on his 30-foot sailboat, Mimsy, which was then towed to the Smiling Cove Marina, where it is currently docked.

Three Boating Safety Unit officers led by Adrian Mendiola launched the Impact 1200 rescue boat and located the 65-year-old Meleshyus.

Acting Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Jason Tarkong said yesterday that the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam received a distress call from Meleshyus on Tuesday at 2am.

USCG Guam then informed the Emergency Management Office, which then informed DPS about the distress call, Tarkong said. That prompted Boating Safety officers to respond aboard the DPS rescue boat.

Tarkong said their initial information is that the sailboat had a damaged sail and was drifting about 16 miles southeast of Saipan. The vessel was sailing from Fiji on its way to Japan.

There was a high surf advisory in effect at that time, Tarkong said, and southeast swells were 9 to 11 feet high, with east winds at 15-25 knots.

Meleshyus told police that he got caught in a tropical disturbance about 16 miles southeast of Saipan at about 2am, and his sails got damaged.

Unable to operate the vessel, he contacted the U.S. Coast Guard via his marine radio, requesting for help. His radio died out and he was without communications as the vessel drifted closer to Saipan until the rescue came.

Meleshyus said that sailing from Fiji going north was very difficult because of the current that pushed his boat toward the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. He wanted to proceed north until he ended up near Saipan. It’s his first time on the island.

Meleshyus, who is described as a Russian immigrant, reportedly spent years in Hawaii, then in San Francisco, Alaska, and the Pacific.

Jon Aetheros Prime, a writer and sailor from Hawaii, writes a blog since June 21, 2017, dedicated to Mimsy’s voyages.

In his latest post last Aug. 2, Prime said Meleshyus’ last contact via his satellite communicator was on July 30, 2017, at 1:19pm.

Prime said Meleshyus stated he had been calling for assistance on his radio but got no reply. At that time, Prime said, Mimsy’s last location was 15 miles northeast of an island in Fiji.

“He indicated that he was drifting with the current and had no idea where he’d end up,” Prime said.

He said he has known Meleshyus for three years now and that they often met at Starbucks and chat when Meleshyus was in Hilo, Hawaii.

“He slowly sails happily onward toward an unknown destiny which only he understands,” Prime said.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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